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Offense needs work inside the 5-yard line

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Oct 28, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    By Tod Leonard
    Union-Tribune Staff Writer

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Philip Rivers could find daisies in a volcanic lava flow if he looked hard enough. That's how optimistic the Chargers quarterback is. And he was at his glass-half-full best yesterday in assessing his team's performance deep in the territory of the Kansas City Chiefs.
    The Chargers scored a dominating 37-7 victory at Arrowhead Stadium, and the offense made some spectacular plays. But by Rivers' own admission, San Diego could have scored 50-something points against a faulty opponent that is now 1-6 and has lost all four of its home games.
    Four times the Chargers had possessions inside the Chiefs' 5-yard line, but they managed only one touchdown — Malcom Floyd's 3-yard catch in the first quarter. They had to settle for two Nate Kaeding field goals and got nothing on a third attempt when head coach Norv Turner dug in his heels and kept trying to get LaDainian Tomlinson his first touchdown since the season opener.
    Rivers, of course, saw that glimmer of sunshine peeking through the storm clouds that hovered over Arrowhead Stadium all afternoon.
    “I think the fact we got some of those plays on tape, there in that goal-line formation . . . it's a lot easier to correct those coming off a win,” Rivers said. “I think it will continue to make our O-line and those guys even much more hungry to run it into the end zone.”
    That is quality spin, but Rivers was right. If the Chargers lose, as they did last week when they were stuffed by Denver at the goal line on a critical series, there would be a firestorm awaiting the team on its return to San Diego. Instead, it was a comfortable victory with a few blemishes.
    “If it had a cost us, we would have been really upset,” Rivers said.
    There was a lot that went right for the Chargers on offense, with the team rolling up 403 yards. Rivers threw touchdowns to three different targets; Vincent Jackson set a Chargers record with 142 yards receiving in the first half, and Tomlinson and Darren Sproles contributed greatly.
    Sproles turned a short reception into a 58-yard touchdown, and Tomlinson ripped off a 36-yard run on San Diego's second drive that set the tone for the entire game. Tomlinson finished with a season-best 71 yards on a season-high 23 carries, and his team, which entered the game tied with Arizona for the fewest rushing yards in the league, managed a very respectable 135.
    But it seems the closer the Chargers get to the goal line, the turf turns to sand under their cleats.
    “We need to keep working to get better,” Turner said. “That's one of the areas we're going to have to continue to improve. We had chances.”
    Widely criticized last week for having Sproles in the game instead of Tomlinson on a third-and-goal play in the first quarter, Turner was determined to give his star a full shot yesterday. For the game, Tomlinson got eight carries from the Chiefs' 5 or closer. The results: 2 yards, 0, 0, minus-1, 1, 0, 0, 1.
    “We made a lot of mistakes inside the 5-yard line,” right tackle Jeromey Clary said.
    The biggest error was a mental one. On a first-and-goal play at the 2, Tomlinson punched the ball in and the Chargers began to celebrate a score that would have given them a 33-7 lead late in the third quarter. But first-year lineman Brandyn Dombrowski was penalized for not reporting as an eligible receiver.
    Dombrowski insisted that he notified the referee, but the officials said that was not the case.
    “It's unfortunate, because Brandyn is a very conscientious guy,” Turner said. “ . . . He didn't make good visual contact with the official. He'll learn from that.”
    Backed up to the 7, Turner called Tomlinson's number four more times, even going for it on fourth down. But Kansas City held, frustrating the Chargers in the only facet of the game in which the Chiefs excelled.

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